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These two have quit their jobs to build a start-up that helps others find flexible work

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Debbie Phillips and Chrisina Smerdon © Salt Mama Studio 2016

Flex Able Jobs is a new online job board targeted exclusively at skilled professionals seeking flexible work arrangements. The platform is like seek.com.au but just for flexible jobs.

The two Flex Able Jobs co-founders, Debbie Phillips and Christina Smerdonhave quit their jobs in large corporates to set up the website, and have already signed up ANZ, which has become one of the first companies in Australia to earn certification as flexible employer.

The two say it is time Australia recognises flexibility not just for mums, and skilled professionals should not have to sacrifice their seniority, responsibilities or pay levels for a flexible role. Flex Able Jobs also gives a chance to corporates and SMEs alike to tap into a pool of talent they might not be able to afford full time for instance.

Only certified employers can use the new service and only subscribers can access the flexible jobs advertised.

The certification uses stringent criteria examining when, where and how the company’s employees work to ensure flexible options are a reality at these certified organisations.

What is the motivation behind Flex Able Jobs?

Ms Phillips remarked that an increasing number of professional men and women of all ages wanted to work flexibly but often found themselves sacrificing seniority, responsibilities or pay levels. “This means everyone misses out because all that experience and skills are going to waste,” she said.

“Research shows employers can save up to a third of an employee’s salary by offering flexible work and access top talent that would otherwise be out of their reach. Existing job search models require job seekers to search, apply for, and even accept positions before they dare discuss flexibility in the role.

“The Flex Able Jobs certification guarantees candidates an employer will be ready to discuss a flexible work arrangement upfront. The nine to five work week is a relic of the 20th century, and this logic holds little place in today’s connected world.”

The benefits of workplace flexibility are well documented for employees, from lower stress levels to increased quality of life. For companies, better staff engagement, productivity gains and potential savings are just the beginning. Yet in Australia, flexible work still carries a stigma of being reserved for women with children.

“Those employers viewing flexible work just as a ‘mum returning to work’ option are simply going to get left behind in the race for talent,” Ms Phillips warned.

“From baby boomers with incredible knowledge keen to keep working but pursue other interests to millennials starting out, expectations around our work life balance have evolved. Providing flexible work is absolutely a talent acquisition and retention strategy.”

Why has ANZ signed up for Flex Able Jobs?

Fiona Vines, the flexibility, diversity and inclusion lead at ANZ said it was time for business to walk the flexible talk.

“ANZ had a goal to increase the adoption of flexible working practices in Australia and New Zealand to 50 per cent of employees in 2015,” Ms Vines said.

“Since we launched ‘All Roles Flex’ in February 2015, ANZ has successfully exceeded this goal with a significant increase in flexibility adoption levels to 87 per cent. We recognise that mainstreaming flexibility has far reaching impacts on the productivity, agility and connectivity of our people and continue rolling out flexibility in other markets where ANZ operates.”

Flexibility at work is built upon three key elements: when work is completed (compressed work week, varying start and finish time, no set day or hours); where work is completed (home office, alternate work site, telecommuting); and how work is completed (job sharing, part-year work, seven-day fortnight).

Companies keen to become accredited by Flex Able Jobs should visit here and professionals seeking flexible work arrangements can sign up for the introductory price of just $2 per year here.

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